Division Sizes

Discussion in 'Higher Formations' started by raf, Jul 5, 2006.

  1. raf

    raf Senior Member

    who can tell me what makes the following how many men etc

    a unit
    a division
    a regiment
    a brigade
    a squadran
    a batalian etc

    the reason i ask is i see all the time mentioned that we had so many and the germans had this but never sure if more divisions mean more men.

    like at normandy i think the germans had 46 divisions were the uk had 6

  2. ErikH

    ErikH Senior Member

    Battalion - the smallest infantry organization that can arrange for a concentration of support weapons of different kinds.

    Usually grouped with other units such as armoured regiments or other infantry battalions into higher formations: brigades, divisions, corps, armies and army groups. The battalion itself was composed of various sub-units: companies, platoons, and sections. Three sections composed of 10 men made up a platoon, commanded by a lieutenant or subaltern (second-lieutenant), and three platoons in turn comprised a rifle company, under a major or captain. Infantry battalions typically counted four rifle companies as well as a headquarters company and a support company including carrier, mortar, anti-tank, and pioneer platoons. The carrier platoon used Universal carriers, also called Bren gun carriers, while the pioneer platoon members were explosives and mine-clearing specialists. Commanded by a Lieutenant-Colonel, total strength of such a battalion was established at 36 officers and 809 other ranks, including various headquarters personnel. Battle casualties meant that battalions often had to fight seriously under strength, however, so the established numerical strength should not be considered an absolute.

    three battalions were grouped into a brigade, commanded by a Brigadier, and three brigades into a division, commanded by a Major-General and complete with its own field artillery and divisional troops-reconnaissance, signals, engineers, anti-tank, medium machine-gun, and light anti-aircraft units. Armoured divisions were similarly organized, but by 1944 comprised one armoured brigade featuring three armoured regiments and one motorized infantry battalion as well as one standard infantry brigade plus divisional troops. Two or more divisions made up a corps (Lieutenant-General), two or more corps formed an army (Lieutenant-General or General), and two or more armies an army group (commanded by a General, or in the case of 21st Army Group from September 1944, by Field-Marshal B.L. Montgomery).
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Always remember that these terms mean different things in different armies at different times as well.
    If I've remembered right Stalin doubled his divisions at a stroke by halving the number of men per division, and as any enquiry into German Units confirms a division on paper can be a very long way from the tattered actuality on the ground.

  4. plant-pilot

    plant-pilot Senior Member

    Rough rule of thumb....

    3 sections = 1 Platoon
    3 Platoons (+HQ, Support) = 1 Company
    3 Companies (+HQ, Support) = 1 Battalion
    3 Bn sized units (Inf/Armour)(+ Support elements) = 1 Brigade
    3 Brigades (+Div Units) = 1 Division
    3 Divisions = 1 Corps
    3 Corps = 1 Army

    As has been mentioned numbers of Bdes, Divs etc can be flexible depending on availibility or task and so a formation can be annotated (+) or (-) depending on whether they are above or below normal strength.

    There is no correct answer, but if you take the rule of 'threes' as the modern 'norm' you should be in the general ball park when thinking of sizes of an average.
  5. mahross

    mahross Senior Member

    Taking the Infantry division of 1944 as the example the figure varied wildly. For example these are the sizes for the following countries:

    Germany, 1944 Pattern Infantry Division - 12523
    Germany, Volksgrenadier Division - 10072
    Japan, 1941 Type A Infantry Division - 20000
    Japan, 1941 Type B Infantry Division - 24600
    Great Britain, 1944 Infantry Division - 18347
    USA, 1943 Infantry Division - 14253
    USSR, 1943 Rifle Division - 9619

    (Source: John Ellis, The World War II Databook: The Essential Facts and Figures for all combatants (London: Aurum, 1993) pp. 205 - 222

    One thing that you need to remember, however, is that neither the Germans or the Russians often reached the official set levels given by their respective high commands. Also British and US division also had a large tail on top of the basic formation strenght when you add attached elements from Corps, Army and Army Group level for operation. For example most British Infantry Divisions numbered somewhere in the region of 35000 - 40000 men with attached forces. A far larger number than the Germans and Russians. So knowing the official strength does not mean you can work it out properley. What you need to do that it the daily returns from individual units to find an accurate figure and then that would be for a specific day in a specific operation.

  6. Gibbo

    Gibbo Senior Member

    One reason why German divisions were often well under an official strength that was less than the same for a Western Allied division is that Hitler was obsessed with the number of divisions in the German army. Replacements were therefore often formed into new divisions rather than did being used to bring existing ones up to strength.

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